ON $515M ARPA SPENDING PLAN
Rep. Edwin K. Propst (D-Saipan) believes that Gov. Ralph DLG Torres should include all 20 members of the House of Representatives and not just two or three of them in the roundtable discussions on how to spend the $515 million that is allocated to the CNMI under the American Rescue Plan Act.
At a House session last Friday, Propst urged all House members to put political partisanship aside and have all of them sit at the table in talking about the CNMI’s ARPA spending plan.
“I beg the governor to include us in a roundhouse discussion on where this funding should go,” he added.
The lawmaker pointed out that Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero has reached out to the Guam Senate on how to spend their ARPA funding and he finds it “deeply frustrating” that that hasn’t happened yet in the CNMI’s case. He said Deleon Guerrero reached out to Sen. Jim Moylan, who put out legislation or ways that he’d like to see the funding spent.
“How many of us have a seat at the table? When has Gov. Torres ever asked us, ‘Hey guys, can we meet because we have a lot of money here. I have ideas, but I’d like to hear your ideas,’” Propst said.
The lawmaker said he himself has several ideas after meeting with his constituents. “I want a seat at the table because I want to ensure that the money is well-spent and well-invested,” he said. “How is that that not all of us want the same thing, regardless of political partisanship?”
He said they should forget about political partisanship and instead look at their responsibilities and duties and what they can do for their constituents. “I ask it from the bottom of my heart. That every single one of us, speaker, vice speaker, floor leader, colleagues, that we have a seat at the table equally. And we discuss how that money should be spent,” Propst said.
He said he is aware that they have a lot of disagreements on appropriating those ARPA funds, but that they should put those aside. “Let’s look at how can we convince this governor to ensure that we all have a seat at the table so that we can give input. It shouldn’t be one of us, or two of us or three of us in this room. It should be all 20 of us.”